Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Old Man Winter's A *@^#*+!

That's right, you heard me....I'm talking dirty bastard. Harsh? Maybe. Those of you who know me know that I'm no fanboy of this frigid wasteland setting. We are in the middle of a massive winter storm and have been under a blizzard warning since early in the A.M. We just heard that KC has declared a state of emergency; there is a fifteen car pileup nearby and that the airport is closed. For the last three hours, visibility has been nil at times and that's looking out the back door. We are nearing a foot of snow and temps will hover around 10 below zero tomorrow morning. For those of you not in the KC area, please refer to the weather map provided....I live in the mostly screwed area; K's family lives in the totally screwed area. I'm forever in awe of those friends of mine that live in the Northeast and other areas that find this normal.....that really just taxes my winter-weary mind. Granted, I grew up in an even more challenging winter weather area but I still don't dig it. Those of you who find this winter weather a treat can spare me your reasons to love the season because they will fall on cold, deaf ears.

I wasn't always this way. Like many kids, I was a fan of big snows when I was much younger. I loved getting the day off from school. We would grab our sleds and head up to the hills in the county park behind our home and spend the whole day sledding......nothing better. In retrospect, I wish I had done as Sierra and Tanner are doing now and learned to ski when I was their age. Had I done that instead of a few clumsy attempts in high school and beyond; I might still have a soft spot for wintry weather. As it is, my favorite memory of ski trips revolve unsurprisingly, around food and drink...sipping beer with friends in an outdoor hot tub in the snow and dining on Veal Cordon Bleu for the first time in a glass-enclosed dining room while whiteout conditions raged outside. The Blizzard of '93 and the true monster storm of '94 in my West Virginia hometown region helped form my present attitude toward winter.....briefly fascinating but ultimately frustrating, uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. I still remember the trees on those West Virginia back roads during the '94 storm....tall, stately trees completely encased in ice. It looked like an Enchanted Crystal Forest. Breathtaking to behold but one branch snapping off could create power outages or kill a person. The older I get, the more often I see winter approach and I sense Danger, Danger, Will Robinson. Keith's fall on the ice a couple years ago heading to the Sprint Center resulted in him being unconscious for a few moments and a night in Truman Medical's emergency room. I know the changing of the seasons are necessary but I would, given the chance, hibernate through the whole thing. Spring, please.

I turned, as I so often do, to creature comforts in order to spite the elements. I watched two of TCM's classics as part of their 31 Days of Oscar promotion: The Thin Man and Citizen Kane. The Thin Man's Nick and Nora Charles and pup Asta could brighten the most frozen of souls. I love the final dinner party scene as the suspects are gathered for a final reveal. Nick announces: "The murderer is right here in this room at this very table. You may serve the fish." Now that's a dinner party. Citizen Kane is, as ever, a grand classic and I always just revel in the camera work alone. It's ironic to see that opening scene regarding Charles Foster Kane's snow globe as our home has felt as if it was in a roughly shaken snow globe much of the afternoon.

We cooked several hearty and storm-defying comfort foods as well. Keith made his signature Sausage and Cabbage Soup. Keith's original job in Ohio was managing a bar/bistro called The Establishment and this soup was a staple there. Warm and delicious, it's a good tonic for the winter blues. I made a simple but incredibly flavorful Jamie Oliver recipe of Roasted Cod with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella. I used tilapia as the store was out of cod and it worked beautifully. This recipe was a good test for me.....I tend to head for extra spice on everything but this dish demonstrates that sometimes the simplest of ingredients can provide layers of amazing flavor. We served the fish with Rossi Pasta Lemon Pepper Fettuccine. This counts as Cookbook Challenge #21.

As we learn that I-70 is closed across the entire state, I will provide the recipes for the soup and the fish. The accompanying video is a shot of our back deck, showing that the only ones enjoying the storm here are the squirrels. Stay safe out there, folks.

The Establishment's Sausage and Cabbage Soup

1/2 to 1 lb. of browned sausage
1 head of cabbage chopped up
2 med or 4 small cans of diced tomatoes with juices
1/2 to 1 white onion diced and sauteed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage and saute the onions and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for at least an hour.

Jamie Oliver's Roasted Cod with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella


2 8oz. cod filets (we used tilapia)
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
2 handfuls of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved (we only had red)
1 handful of fresh basil, leaves picked
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, finely sliced
1 handful of grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the cod filets in an oiled roasting pan or baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Place the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella on top of the filets. Sprinkle over the Parmesan, drizzle over some olive oil and bake at the top of the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until golden.


Kristy said...

Oh my Greggles. You know I hates me some winter weather. You also know I hate that you aren't here with me this winter as you were last winter. Methinks you would rather be back in West By God Virginia THIS winter as our temps right now are in the 40's and we are getting rain. Still not great but at least we can drive in it and we don't have to shovel it. But I gotta say, even though I HATE winter weather, that video of the squirrel on your deck was priceless...dare I say "pretty" (Gawd, I know I hate it when people say snow is pretty when all I can think about is shovelling, power outages and being stuck at home.) Thanks for the memories of sleigh riding when we were kids. It was GREAT! But we could never learn to ski as children...what being of lower middle class status. No money to get to the mountains. Remember dear, we are river rats. I will never forget the storm on '93 and then the MASSIVE BLIZZARD of '94 in WV. I liken what you are going through now to that 1994 winter. It was awe inspiring and difficult and frustrating and..well.... it was so bad the National Guard was called in and I stood on my front porch in my robe with my hair in a towel and a broom in my hand threatening a young guardsmen with his life if he plowed in the parking spaces I had just spent 4 hours shovelling out. You KNOW that had to be a pretty sight! So you also know I get crazed with this kind of weather too. In honor of you facing this storm (when I'm not) I cooked storm food again this weekend. My potato soup ROCKED. The wings were good. And the pumpkin cobbler that I hated was LOVED by everybody else. (Yes, I farmed most of the food out. Love to cook but often times I'm too tired to eat after I cook it LOL!) I'd send you some soup but you are well more accomplished in the kitchen than I am and it sounds like you've cooked up some hearty and delicious sustenance for yourself. P.S. Old Man Winter IS a dirty bastard and Mother Nature is a dirty freaking wh*re. Bring on SUMMER. Skip spring. Bring on summer!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's quite the winter wonderland here too. More like winter cluster-f. I wonder how my other friends are doing. They close Barnes? I probably won't return to school this week is my guess. I've been reading. Jeff's been cooking. Rhys and Daphne have been loving having us home. It's hard to believe that in five months it'll be 100 degrees out and humid.

Confounded Cook said...

They closed BN at 1 pm. They're right back open today though and I'll be going soon. Even Keith has been stranded home but God Forbid we not be there so people can come in to read their weed and gun magazines.....ugh. Bring on the humidity!! Kristy, as challenging as this storm was and despite similar elements, it still wasn't '94. We didn't get as much ice or snow as that storm...still a corker, though.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but here's our < 7 degrees of separation:
you're friends with Drew, who is cousin to my sister in law, Laura. There. Now we're all cozy and whatnot.

I just wanted to say that I really like your blog and have added you to my lists. My posting today included a list of blogs that I love and you're listed right under Laura's blog. :) Keep cooking and posting! (and...snow be damned...have a great week!)

Confounded Cook said...

Thank you, yerttle!! You made my snowy day. Thank you for commenting and for your thumbs up. Drew told me about Laura's blog and I need to catch up. You are right....snow be damned, let's move on! Welcome!!

Lisa Mandina said...

Greg I am so with you on the weather! As a teacher I do like a few snow days, but this is ridiculous. I wondered if the store would be open today, and I love your comment about the weed and gun magazines. So true! My favorite is all the diet and exercise books left sitting in huge piles. My thought is they could get a start on their exercising by carrying their huge stack of books right back to where they got them.

Confounded Cook said...

Right on, Lisa! We could initiate our own fitness program at BN!!

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